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Grey Sells

The wicked laughter and the menacing look of Sanjay Dutt aka Kancha Cheena remains with you long after the promo of Agneepath is over.

Written by PriyankaPereira |
September 10, 2011 3:59:08 am

With heroism back in Bollywood,the once popular larger-than-life villains cannot be far behind

The wicked laughter and the menacing look of Sanjay Dutt aka Kancha Cheena remains with you long after the promo of Agneepath is over. In fact,the negative character re-created by Karan Malhotra in his adaptation of Agneepath is being talked about ever since its first teaser hit the theatres last week. This is the power of evil.

Dutt in his new avatar has made the viewer sit up and celebrate the return of an archetypical Bollywood villain—an impersonation of cruelty and pure evil. “I hope Agneepath helps get the trend back in Bollywood. With heroism doing well,villainy too could get the same respect,” says Karan Malhotra,director of Agneepath.

However,before Dutt can engage the audience with his villainous act,Arjun Rampal will,hopefully,thrill us with his negative act in Ra.One. “I cannot reveal much about Arjun’s role right now. All I can say is there cannot be a hero without a villain,” says Anubhav Sinha,director of Ra.One.

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Soon after Ra.One hits the screens,it will be Rakesh Roshan’s turn to showcase Tinseltown’s newest baddie in Krissh 2 — essayed by Vivek Oberoi. Ask Oberoi about his newfound status as the larger-than-life villain and he is quick to respond,“This is the first time I am playing a full-fledged villain,although I have played an anti-hero in the past. This character could help us get back Bollywood’s quintessential villain. We have been missing him for a while,” says Oberoi.

This decade in Bollywood has been synonymous with experimental cinema. This has made the conflicts and internal fights of the lead actor appear as the negative force while screen baddies have taken a backseat. However,the success of masala films in the last couple of years has also marked the return of the Bollywood

baddie. This was evident in films such as Wanted and Dabangg,and most recently,Singham and Bodyguard. Abhinav Kashyap,the director of Dabangg,instrumental in getting masala movies back in vogue,believes a villain is as good as the hero. “When you have a hero of a certain calibre,you need a villain to match up to him. A Bollywood entertainer is possible only when you have a negative character; he adds the twist to the otherwise mundane story.”


Despite the trend of experimental cinema,Hindi cinema has more than its share of villains. Only their representation has changed over the decades — from village zamindars and money-lenders in the 1950s and 1960s to smugglers,dacoits and urban tycoons violating law in the 1970s and the local goons and sly businessmen in the 1980s. The 1990s belonged to the anti-heroes while in the current crop of films villainy is the domain of politicians and terrorists.

“Hindi film villains too can be divided into two categories — comic book villains and the semi-real ones,” says writer Javed Siddiqui. He says that while Mr India’s Mogambo,Karma’s Dr Dang,Shaan’s Shakaal and Kalicharan’s Lion are more caricaturish,Bhaktawar from Hum,Gabbar Singh from Sholay and Durjan Singh from Karan Arjun are more realistic. “However,the transformation of villains has probably been in tune with the change in society,” feels Siddiqui. “In the 1970s,the dacoit problem was pertinent in most parts of India,and hence Gabbar came about. Today politicians are an easy target for film-makers.”

It may appear Dutt is starting a new phase in Hindi cinema as well as his career with Agneepath,but it’s advisable to be a bit wary. “It is all a passing phase. Some times,a certain kind of negative character works,sometimes it doesn’t. Right now is the time for masala films and hence heroes and villains are talked about,” feels Siddique. Unlike him,Oberoi believes in the lasting appeal of baddies. Yet,the actor puts forth a condition: “A baddie works when his mental makeup is as good as his physical makeup. If both these are in place then the villain is here to stay.”

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First published on: 10-09-2011 at 03:59:08 am
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